The San Francisco Bay Area is a gastronomic touchstone for a reason — so it’s little wonder why this holiday-inspired, locally-made chocolate bar is simply a dessert person’s dream.
Among the Bay Area’s many peculiarities, one is especially charming: we’ve given a name to our city’s ubiquitous weather formation, fog. And said the phenomenon has its own Twitter account with 357,000 followers. Many of San Francisco’s most prominent citizens tweet at it routinely.
@KarlTheFog started mysteriously in 2010 and has since tweeted over 10,000 times. The owner of the account posts anonymously, Banksy-like, from the perspective of San Francisco’s omnipresent fog bank, Karl.
Karl is apparently cheeky, deeply ironic, a little spicy, and prone to excessive drinking.
Now another San Francisco icon, TCHO Chocolate, has immortalized those same properties in a chocolate bar inspired by San Francisco’s favorite anthropomorphized weather formation.
Karl the Nog is a special-edition holiday chocolate bar from TCHO. As the name suggests, the bar is flavored like the rum-based holiday drink eggnog.
As befits a bar inspired by a giant, fluffy, white mound of water vapor, Karl the Nog is built on a base of white chocolate. To that, TCHO adds nutmeg to bring out that holiday, pumpkin-spice vibe, as well as alcohol-free rum flavoring.
TCHO recently announced it was making a massive switch towards going completely plant-based and vegan. To advance that mission, they avoided putting any dairy ingredients into Karl the Nog. Instead, TCHO added cashew butter and oat milk, giving the bar an extra creaminess.
TCHO sent me a few Karl the Nog bars to try out. I’m usually not wild about rum-flavored confections, but Karl the Nog is delicious.
The rum flavoring here adds an extremely subtle note to what is fundamentally a creamy, holiday-spiced, white-chocolate bar. Unlike the drink inspired by the bar’s name, the rum flavor isn’t overpowering or cloying.
It says more “Hey, this is the holiday season!” than “Hey, remember that time you overdid it at the company holiday party?”
The white chocolate in Karl the Nog also seems like a particularly good pairing with TCHO’s new vegan strategy. The company’s intense chocolates usually feel like they really need a bit of milk to mellow them out. White chocolate is already creamy, to begin with and adding in the cashew butter, and oat milk just bumps up that creaminess a couple of notches, no dairy is required.
Evoking the OG Karl, Karl the Nog comes in an ethereal white package with light blue lettering that almost fades into the background. It seems as if the whiteness of the packaging is obscuring the text, just as the real Karl might obscure your brunch or Land’s End wedding.
This is a delicious bar, and I’m a little sad that it’s likely a limited edition. In any event, it’s certainly more than just a local pun transformed into a stocking stuffer or Hanukkah gift idea. It’s genuinely tasty and lives up to the massive responsibility of honoring its namesake.
It also arrives at a good time. TCHO says that Karl the Nog will “help ya survive the holidays.” We can all drink to that!
Thomas Smith is a food and travel writer and photographer based in Lafayette, California.
Feature Image: Courtesy of Instagram via [at]tchochocolate
Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.